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King of the Rainy Country (Van der Valk, Bk 6)
King of the Rainy Country - Van der Valk, Bk 6
Author: Nicolas Freeling
On a parched Spanish hillside, Van der Valk spills blood and splinters bone. A handsome millionaire is missing. A naked girl has disappeared with him. Van der Valk has the arduous task of finding out why and where they are. And some people would shoot him for trying.
ISBN-13: 9780140028539
ISBN-10: 0140028536
Publication Date: 8/30/1975
Pages: 160
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 4

3.6 stars, based on 4 ratings
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
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reviewed King of the Rainy Country (Van der Valk, Bk 6) on + 157 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Just finished reading Nicolas Freeling's The King of the Rainy Country, which features Inspector Piet Van Der Valk. He works out of Amsterdam, but cases occasionally take him various places in Western Europe. In 1975, a millionaire and an 18-year old naked girl disappear. He is sent to find them, a journey that takes him to France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and ever-deepening mysteries. I spend most of my time in the medieval era, but Freeling -- there are at least 35 mysteries in English, in series featuring not only Van Der Valk, but also Henri Castang, Arlette Van Der Valk, and others -- is one of the few writers that tempt me into the 20th century.
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reviewed King of the Rainy Country (Van der Valk, Bk 6) on + 4 more book reviews
22 OCT 2012 (Mon.) @ ~ 11:30 a.m. EST
Along with Raymond Chandler's four great novels, Dashiell Hammit's "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Thin Man", and several of the cases of Horace Rumpole (of the Bailey) and a few short mysteries of Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey, this is my all-time favorite detective story. The protagonist, Inspector Piet Van der Valk of the Amsterdam police, is directed by his superior to search all over Europe for an elusive businessman, for reasons that Van der Valk doesn't fully understand. On the way, at a German festival, the businessman picks up a much younger woman and they continue to elude capture, evading Van der Valk at a skiing competition and stealing ("borrowing") a helicopter to distance themselves from him. Does he locate them, finally? Yes, and no (I hate to appear ambiguous, but I don't wish to give anything away). The title, which is taken from a poem by Baudelaire, has nothing whatsoever to do with either a king (except in a very loose interpretation) or with a rainy country. Van der Valk appears to speak several languages fluently (the Dutch are apparently very good at languages), and he sometimes, during his quest, wakes up exhausted in a railway station and realizes exactly he is only by the smell of the coffee served at the canteen. During his quest, his friendship with a German policeman, his intuitive awareness (continually sharpened during his search) of the lifestyles and habits of the extermely wealthy, and his knowledge of the names of Napoleon's generals prove invaluable. Unlike another key character in the novel, he apparently doesn't carry a gun, and he, like Chandler's Phillip Marlowe, has to be proof against the seductive blandishments of a very attractive woman (interestingly enough, the sought-after businessman's wife!). I read this novel to tatters, along with many others of Freeling's detective stories, mislaid it and gave the rest of the novels away, purchased a previously-owned copy, re-re-read it, and finally gave *it* away to a European friend (and almost wish now that I hadn't). I highly recommend this mystery/love story, especially to anyone who enjoys travelling in Europe; it is subtly filled with "local color", it is not overly long, it is just puzzling enough, and it is extremely entertaining. (signed) Edwin Timothy Vaughan


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